RE: On your seriously careless untruthfulness, Peter Staudenmaier
Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative
May 01, 2001 15:30 PDT
sorry to drag the list through all this. I thought Sune was on the list last
February when I went over these questions in detail in response to Detlef. I
will try one more time to explain what seems inexplicable to Sune.
| ||The first part of this central introducing 'gong-gong' of the article by|
Peter at PLANS' site, its description of the 'plot' and 'personages' of
the article, is:
'In June 1910 Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, began a
speaking tour of Norway with a lecture to a large and attentive audience
in Oslo. The lecture was titled "The Mission of Individual European
National Souls in Relation to Nordic-Germanic Mythology." In the Oslo
lecture and throughout his Norwegian tour Steiner presented his theory
of "national souls" (Volksseelen in German, Steiner's native tongue) and
paid particular attention to the mysterious wonders of the "Nordic
"The "national souls" of Northern and Central Europe were, Steiner
explained, components of the "germanic-nordic sub-race," the world's
most spiritually advanced ethnic group, which was in turn the vanguard
of the highest of five historical "root races." This superior fifth root
race, Steiner told his Oslo audience, was naturally the "Aryan race."
With almost noone any more having access to the lectures in question,
that were published in English (second edition) now more than 30 years
ago and since long out of print, not even the author himself having read
them when he in detail described their content, seemingly paraphrasing
Steiner, the author takes a shot at it and instead makes up the plot as
a fiction out of his fantasy, in its paraphrasing of Steiner making it
stand out as a direct description of what Steiner actually said in the
Sune and I are talking about two different things. He is referring to a book
published in 1918, and I was referring to a lecture given in 1910. Those two
things are closely related (the former is based on the latter), but they are
not identical. Even so, my description of the lecture is, contrary to Sune's
strenuous objections, well supported by the book.
I once again urge anyone who finds Sune's arguments here compelling to
consult this version, the book version, in order to check my paragraph
against Steiner's text.
Everything I wrote in my paragraph was based on secondary sources, several
of which do not agree with Sune's claim. If Sune can explain what on earth
this has to do with either my credibility or the substantive dispute between
us, I will gladly look into the matter and try to find out why there are
differing accounts of Steiner's 1910 itinerary. But it is difficult to
imagine why this would be important to anybody.
The lecture was titled "The Mission of Individual European National
Souls in Relation to Nordic-Germanic Mythology."
According to both the original and the English translation, that also is
The lecture series (not lecture) was entitled " Die mission einzelner
Volksseelen im Zusammanhang mit der germanisch-nordischen Mythologie";
"The mission of single folk souls (in general, not European National
souls) in relation to Nordic-Germanic mythology".
Sune is once again confusing the book with the spoken lecture. My source for
the title of the lecture, as I have explained before, was Hans Mandl's book
Der Geist des Nordens (Mandl was a Norwegian anthroposophist); after Detlef
pointed out the one word discrepancy (i.e. "European") I double checked
Mandl, and he does indeed give the title exactly as I reported it. There is
no reason to assume that Mandl was mistaken; it seems just as likely that
Steiner changed the title for the 1918 published version. Even if Mandl was
mistaken, the error is his, not mine. In order to avoid confusion, I deleted
the word "European" from the English version of this paragraph months ago; I
believe the updated version is now posted at the PLANS website. On the
matter of how to translate "Volksseelen", Sune is blowing smoke; anybody who
cares to can go down to the local library or bookstore and pick up an
English-German dictionary to find out whether "Volk" means "folk" or
"nation", particularly in compound words.
In the Oslo lecture and throughout his Norwegian tour Steiner presented
his theory of "national souls" (Volksseelen in German, Steiner's native
tongue) and paid particular attention to the mysterious wonders of the
The context and subtext of the sentence hints that Steiner should have
talked about the "Nordic spirit" in a similar sense as the Nazis. That
is contrary to the truth.
Only some Nazis celebrated the "Nordic spirit" (in fact there was a raging
debate between Nazi "Nordicists" and "Germanicists", along with a minority
of fence-sitting "Aryanists"). But my sentence doesn't address the Nazis in
any way; I discussed that connection at great length later in the article,
which I guess is what Sune means by the "context". But that context is
thoroughly substantiated, and shows that Sune doesn't know what he's talking
about when he says that the striking similarites between Steiner's nordicist
leanings and those of one faction of the Nazis are "contrary to the truth".
| ||During his life, Steiner on different occasions in books and lectures|
dealt with a great part of the discussed themes of his time. In the
lecture series Steiner systematically discussed one of the themes that
was a central part of the intellectual discussion from the last part of
the 19th century up to after the middle of the 20th century, that of the
nature of peoples, races and nations.
In the series, Steiner gives a sketch ot the psychology of peoples in a
context of a discussion of the arising and fading differentiation of
humanity into races, cultures, nations and individuals.
Sune needs to do a bit more reading into early 20th century anthropology;
the notion of a "psychology of peoples" was abandoned by many as patently
racist before Steiner latched on to it. It would also be nice if
anthroposophists and their defenders would bother to read just a little of
their own anthropologists' work, starting with Richard Karutz.
| ||What Staudenmaier implies is that Steiner in the lectures should argue|
for the superiority of Germans over other peoples on the basis of
teutonic mythology in the vein of the Nazis. That is the complete
opposite of the truth.
I don't know how Sune, whose knowledge of Nazi racial theories is limited
and partial (on this list he has made several completely erroneous claims
about the Nazis' use of the term "Aryan") could possibly be in a position to
make an informed judgement on this question. But if I have understood him
correctly, he doesn't need to know much about the various Nazi versions of
teutonic mythology, since he simply denies that Steiner argued for the
superiority of Germans over other peoples. It is this sort of denial that
makes me question his grasp of basic anthroposophical concepts, not to
mention his reading comprehension skills.
| ||What Steiner points to, constituting the culmination of the lecture|
series (lecture 11
how Nordic mythology describes the character of Vidar, pointing to
Christ, and how a similar experience of Christ as that experienced by
Paul will become ever more common from the middle of the 20th century
and onwards. He also describes how
"... the larger nations no less than the smaller isolated groups have
each their appointed mission and have to contribute their share to the
whole. Often the smallest national fragments have most important
contributions to make because it is given to them to preserve and
nurture old and new motifs in the soul-life.
Thus, even though we have made this dangerous topic the subject of our
lectures, it will serve to foster the basic sentiment of a community of
soul amongst all those who are united under the banner of
anthroposophical thought and feeling and of Anthroposophical ideals."
"What is given to all mankind must be given; it may, it is true,
originate in a particular region, but it must be given to the whole of
humanity. We do not differentiate between East and West. We accept with
deep gratitude the surpassing grandeur of the primeval culture of the
holy Rishis in its true form. We accept with gratitude the Persian
culture, the Egypto-Chaldean and Graeco-Latin cultures, and with the
same objectivity we also accept the cultural heritage of Europe. We are
compelled by the needs of the situation to present the facts as they
If we incorporate the total contributions which each religion has made
to the civilizing process of mankind into what we recognize to be the
common property of mankind, then the more we do this, the more we are
acting in accordance with the Christ principle."
"Spiritual Science, as we shall realize more and more clearly, will
bring an end to the divisions of mankind. Therefore now is the right
moment to learn to know the Folk Souls, because the province of
Spiritual Science is not to promote antagonism between them, but to call
upon them to work in harmonious cooperation."
I fail to see the relevance of these quotes to our dispute over Steiner's
racial classification scheme. I am also amused by Sune's obliviousness to
the function of similar passages about "harmonious cooperation" in Nazi
discussions of "greater and lesser nations". I get the sense that Sune
thinks the Nazis' public discourse was all about hatred and oppression. He
is very much mistaken.
| ||1. Steiner did not explain that the "national souls" of Northern and|
Central Europe were components of the "germanic-nordic sub-race", which
was the terminology used in the Theosophical tradition. The truth, being
contrary to what Staudenmaier writes, is that Steiner in the lectures
not once mentions the word "sub-races" and much less the concept of the
That is accurate as far as the book version goes, as I already noted
yesterday. There Steiner refers to the "Germanic peoples", not "sub-races".
Again, I don't understand why Sune is so confident that this was also the
case in the spoken lectures; surely Sune Nordwall is not a more reliable
source about what Steiner said in June 1910 than the sources I consulted.
But I am willing to grant that my claim that Steiner used this term on that
occasion is unprovable. I do not see, however, how this could count as a
significant shortcoming in my description; "sub-races" and "peoples" are
synonyms in this context.
| ||Instead he points to how development after the time of the mythical|
"Atlantis", ending with the last glacial ages some 10 000 year B.C.
cannot be described in terms of "races" and "subraces", but must be
considered in terms of the successive development of a number of
central, consecutive, ever more global cultures, out of people living in
geographical areas constituting nodal points in this development. (See
Steiner says nothing of the sort in the text Sune points to, but we've
already been over that ground. I feel compelled once again to wonder about
Sune's reading abilities.
| ||How distorted the description by Staudenmaier is, is shown by how|
Steiner in lecture 2
describes the unsurpassed character of the philosophy of, not a
"nordic-germanic subrace", but the first post-glacial Indian
civilisation, preceding our present cultural epoch with 8 000 years;
" ...the uniqueness of Indian philosophy [...], as creative thought
expressive of the inner life, is unsurpassed by any other people, and
it also explains the inner perfection of thought so characteristic of
the Indian culture."
Sune seems to be having trouble with the concept of comparison lately.
Steiner said lots of nice things about other sub-races/peoples/cultural
epochs, which didn't stop him from asserting that the Germans were the
nicest of all.
| ||He also in lecture 8|
describes how the people of ancient India had developed to a high degree
in a way only reached later by "the inhabitants of all the countries
lying further West":
"The peoples of ancient India had reached a high stage of evolution
before they developed the 'I'. In all other aspects of evolution they
had made great strides. Behind them lay a very long period of
development, but they had lived through it in a kind of dim
consciousness. Then the 'I' entered in - they awoke to consciousness of
the 'I'. Amongst the Indians this came comparatively late, at a time
when the people was already to a certain extent very mature, when they
had already undergone what the Teutonic peoples still had to undergo
when they had developed their ego. Bear this carefully in mind."
Yes, the process of racial advance occurs in chronological succession,
according to Steiner. None of this in any way contradicts his annointment of
the Germans as the pinnacle of that process. Sune evidently missed the pages
in this book where Steiner decribes how the Germans take consciousness and
the 'I' to new and unprecedented levels.
| ||The degree of distortion in Staudenmaiers description also is made clear|
by how Steiner, in lecture 7
describes the Time Spirit of our present (European) cultural epoch since
the Middle Ages, not as "the most advanced" or "superior" Time Spirit,
but as belonging
"... to the great leading Time Spirits, equally with those who were the
great directing Time Spirits during the Egypto-Chaldean-Babylonian, Old
Persian and Indian epochs."
Yes, the leading Time Spirits all stand at an equal spot within the cosmic
hierarchy (that is, they each hold the same rank), but their respective
peoples/nations obviously do not. Sune has forgotten that the Germanic Time
Spirit, in Steiner's narrative, long ago took over the reins of spiritual
evolution from his predecessor.
| ||3. In the lecture series, the translator of the 1970 English edition|
mistakenly in 2 instances in the text (lecture 6 at
mistranslated Steiner's reference to what during the first part of the
20th century was considered to be the five 'main races' of mankind with
the Theosophical term 'root races', a term that Steiner stopped using
the year before (1909) in ever more distancing himself from the
"main races" with "root races" is a mistake and that Steiner in
| ||From the context of these instances it is clear that the translation of
mentioning the concept of the "five main races" of mankind, does not
refer to the concept of "root races" used in the Theosophical tradition.
Sune is suffering from a peculiar schizophrenia on this question. Just last
week he himself asserted, while discussing a 1909 Steiner lecture, that
"main races" and "root races" were the same thing. Now he thinks they're
entirely different. He was right the first time; Steiner used the terms
interchangeably. In any case, Steiner uses the term "root races" throughout
this book, not just in two instances. The English version Sune and I are
debating is, by the way, the authorized 1970 translation.
| ||In a lecture half a year before the lecture series discussed by|
Staudenmaier, Steiner described how the concept of "races" in a proper
sense in his view not can be used for the time since the end of the last
glacial ages; following the time of the mythical "Atlantis"
Repetition won't make this true. The lecture clearly says that racial
categories will not be "overcome" until the "sixth epoch". Perhaps Sune's
edition of GA 117 is missing a few pages.
This superior fifth root race, Steiner told his Oslo audience, was
naturally the "Aryan race."
Again, this is a total fantasy by Staudenmaier. In the lecture series,
Steiner not once mentions neither "root race", nor "fifth root race",
nor "superior fifth root race".
Readers can easily see for themsleves that "root races" are "mentioned"
throughout the book. A total fantasy, it seems to me, means something that
is made up out of thin air, with no discernible relation to its purported
basis. Since Steiner indisputably names the "Aryans" as one of the "root
races" he discusses, it is hard to see how my description could count as a
total fantasy. What really irks Sune is that I have additionally noted the
superior status Steiner attaches to "the Aryans" in this lecture. On that
matter, it is at least conceivable that another reader might disagree with
my understanding of the text (though I suspect it would take quite a bit of
willful blindness to do so); but pretending that Steiner doesn't even use
these terms is pure silliness. If I weren't such an open-minded guy, I'd say
that this alone disqualifies Sune from serious discussion of these lectures.
| ||In the untruthful phantasy sentence, Staudenmaier explicitly implies|
that Steiner should have talked about "Aryans" as the "superior fifth
root race" in the lectures, in a way Staudenmaier then tries to connect
to National Socialist ideology. Reading the lecture series, it is clear
that few things are further from the truth.
Aside from the fact that it is impossible to "explicitly imply" anything at
all, I didn't "imply" this, I said it outright. And yes, I then went on to
connect Steiner's theories to their National Socialist counterparts. In
order to evaluate whether this latter connection is a figment of my
imagination, one would need to go beyond merely reading Steiner's lectures,
something I have urged Sune to try on more than one occasion.
| ||Only once in the 11 lectures (lecture 6|
does Steiner mention 'Aryans', referring to "the peoples of Asia Minor
and Europe whom we regard as members of the Caucasian race." The main
thing that he has to say about Caucasians as a "race", in a general
simplified way referring to their external, physical character, is:
"The particular task of the Caucasian race is to find the way to the
spirit through the senses, for this race is orientated chiefly towards
This point is about as much as Steiner has to say about "Aryans" in the
one lecture of the 11 in the series where he mentions the term "aryan".
That's because he spends most of his time on the individual components of
the "Aryan" race, namely its constituent "peoples". These are, after all,
lectures about "people souls", not "race souls".
| ||Contrary to Staudenmaier's distorted assertions, Steiner in the lecture|
series does not promote any view of an "Aryan race" as "superior" but
warns against the dangers facing people who cultivate the development of
clairvoyance with erroneous methods, in terms of developing erroneous
understanding of the nature of "races" (not leading to an experience and
understanding of Christ, the description of which constitutes the
culmination of the series in the 11th lecture
to other experiences and views):
"The abnormal Spirits of Form [normal Spirits of Form in the
Jewish-Christian tradition are called Powers. According to Steiner
abnormal Mights are responsible for the differentiation of humanity into
'races'] who are really Spirits of Movement [Mights] and who appear as
hideous spiritual Beings on the astral plane also have their subordinate
spirits. They are the spirits that weave and live in that which is
associated with the genesis of the human races, and that in man is
associated with that element that we have characterised as the
Earth-bound, as that element which is associated with reproduction and
These beings, indeed this whole domain is one of the most variegated and
dangerous of the astral world and - this is the appropriate moment to
call attention to it - it is the one most easily found by those who
attain to clairvoyant vision by erroneous methods. The hosts of these
spirits who are associated with the propagation of the race, who serve
that purpose, are those most easily perceived.
Many a one who has entered into the occult realm prematurely or in the
wrong way has had to pay dearly for having encountered this host of
spiritual beings without the harmonizing influence of the other
In lecture 11
the final lecture of the series, he again warns:
"There will be no greater danger than the tendency to cling to the old
clairvoyance which has not been permeated with the new forces, a danger
which might tempt man to remain content with the manifestations of the
old astral clairvoyance of primeval times, such as the soul pictures of
the Fenris Wolf." (portraying the anti-Christian Ahrimanic forces
feeding on the living substance of the etheric body of man)
What does any of this have to do with the question of Aryan supremacy?
| ||Read in the light of history, the development of "Aryanism" and the|
following development of National Socialism, as an outdated cult of the
Nordic hero with magical-ritual means, the words in the final lecture in
the series stand out as prophetic, in a way that Staudenmaier in the
article tries to make stand out as the opposite.
I cannot fathom what Sune is trying to say here. I don't find anything in
the passges just quoted that is related to Aryanism, much less in a way that
would distinguish Steiner's version of Aryanism from the several Nazi
versions. Perhaps Sune could explain what he means.
| ||In its probably unsurpassed untruthfulness at PLANS' site, the|
introduction casts a shadow over everything else Staudenmaier writes on
anthroposophy, not least his keeping the untruths in the article for a
year after having had the possibility to check them out against the
published lectures themselves as well as more or less later also against
the original text in German.
I still haven't seen the German text, but I'd like to. Could you perhaps
send me a photocopy, Sune? Or post it on your website?
| ||Seeing with which light-hearted carelessness Peter makes up lies about|
Steiner and anthroposophy, as demonstrated by his introducing
description of the plot of his article 'Anthroposophy and Ecofascism',
and then mixes it with what may or may not be more true assertions on
the subject he comments on, in a way that impossible for the general
reader of it to look through without closer study, makes me suspicious
of everything else he may have to say say about anthroposophy and
Steiner, and his judgements on them, down to the last comma, that no
amount of references can made credible, making me want to read every
lecture or reference he mentions myself, before knowing what to think
I think everybody else should too.
Everybody ought to do so in any case, of course, regardless of their
personal opinion of me. It is irresponsible to take any author at her or his
word without looking into to the conext oneself, when possible. I very much
hope list members will follow Sune's advice and read my article as well as
the texts Sune and others have posted in order to determine whether I have
"made up lies" about Steiner's works.
| ||The keeping of the conscious untruths in the article for so long matches|
the conscious keeping of the admitted untruthful description of the
basis of Waldorf education at the site of PLANS by the main webmaster of
the site and main moderator of this list; Dan Dugan, for lack of a
truthful description of WE that stands out as equally weird.
In this keeping of conscious untruths in their material at the site of
PLANS, Peter Staudenmaier and Dan Dugan stand out as brothers in spirit.
I am still learning about Waldorf pedagogy, but I haven't seen anything in
Dan's descriptions of it that strikes me as "weird", and I have no idea what
Sune means with "admitted untruths". In regard to those areas of
anthroposophy that I do know well, Dan's command of the material is superior
to that of most of the anthroposophists I've encountered. I am thus
flattered by the comparison.
On Sune's larger point: In order to know whether someone else has spread
"conscious untruths", one needs to know what the other person actually
believes to be true. So far Sune has not suggested, much less shown, that I
believe the contrary of what I have written. His conclusions are thus quite
overdrawn; even if every assertion he has made here were accurate, they
still would not support the claim that I have been "lying", that is, telling
deliberate falsehoods. To me this indicates a fundamental misunderstanding
of historical scholarship. Historians make mistakes all the time; it comes
with the territory. Later scholars can then build on earlier insights while
discarding failed, inadequate, or disproved lines of argument. I would be
absolutely delighted to find my work on anthroposophy subjected to that sort
of serious scrutiny one day, and it would be surprising indeed if it did not
turn out to contain any number of mistakes. But Sune hasn't undertaken any
such project; he has simply collected his prejudices against my
interpretation of Steiner and added some pointless invective about my
honesty. Not a particularly edifying approach to debate, but then perhaps I
expect too much from anthroposophists.
Happy May Day to all. I'll be out of town for the next few days but will
return to the fray at the end of the week.